I am six months into my Vista experience. Today I reached the tipping point. While I have to continue using it, I am going to say flat out that Vista is not worth the effort.
My efforts at liking Vista go far beyond what I would normally do for any piece of software. I have used Vista ever day for over the last six months. I have let Microsoft do whatever it wanted to do to my system through automatic updates.
I have intervened once and that was only when the wireless networking on the my Vista HP laptop was so bad that I was ready to throw it into the water behind the house. I searched out some new drivers for my wireless card. That improved wireless performance to the point where the system became usable.
Still I struggled through the stupid situation where every time I put the system to sleep I had to deal with a distorted screen once the system wakes from sleep. The only solution seemed to be rebooting the laptop. Any Vista user can tell you that takes far more time than any computer in recent memory.
My guess and the guess of others is that I have graphics driver issue. So I went to the nVidia website. After I finally got it to figure out what system I was using, I was told that I could only get driver updates from HP.com.
When I got to HP.com, I found that there were over 40 systems with the name of HP Pavilion dv6000. So I looked on the back and found another model number HP dv6451.us. I made a mistake typing and put "Pavillion dv6451" instead of Pavilion dv6451. At that point I was told that over 400 products claimed the name. I finally got the name right only to find out that HP has no recommended driver update.
While I was on HP's site, I decided to see why my system has not been updated to Vista Service Pack 1. First I found HP Notebook PCs - Update to Vista SP1 Frequently Asked Questions and then the even more scary HP Notebook PCs - Precautions to Take Before Updating to Vista Service Pack 1. After reading that I decided that I did not even want Vista Service Pack 1, but I still wanted to fix my problems with the video.
I have been a little suspicious of HP Update program anyway since it has failed to install updates recently so when I saw this paragraph I decided to roll the dice and see if I could shake things up on my system.
The HP Update utility will check for updated drivers and software, however the older versions of HP Update (v4.000.005.007 or earlier) will not work properly after upgrading to Vista SP1. To install the latest version of HP Update, open the Control Panel and uninstall the older version of HP Update. Then go to the hp.com web site and search for the softpaq SP38202 HP Update and HP Software Update - Critical Security Update (English only).
I uninstalled my HP Update software and managed to get the new version working after a number of tries. When I finally ran the new HP Update, I got a message that no updates were available for my system.
So at this point I was beginning to think there was no hope for the driver update that nVidia hinted that HP might have available for me.
I decided to run Windows Update just for the heck of it. Windows told me that there were no critical updates available for my system. However, when I looked in optional updates there was a new graphics driver update for my system. I installed it, and just gave my system the sleep-wake from sleep test. Much to my amazement, I no longer have a distorted screen on waking from sleep. Tomorrow we will see if that was chance or it is really fixed.
One would think that I might be making some type of convoluted progress, but it was just the appearance of progress. If you have perhaps read my On the eve of Apple's Leopard, I buy a Windows Vista Laptop post, you might remember that the overriding reason for me, a user of Apple products for 26 years, to buy a Vista system was so that I could do real estate forms.
This afternoon I once again needed to send a PDF form to a remote customer so they could renew their listing with me. Last week I had a problem doing PDFs with the forms package that I had installed to get around the one which had become very flaky on Vista. An older program seemed to work once I retyped the client's information. When I tried to do that tonight, I got an error and could not create a PDF. I tried the first program, and it wouldn't work either.
I resorted to the help menu only to get this message. It is amazing to me that Microsoft would not build some sort of mechanism to read old help files. After all Apple figured out how to run non native software on Intel processors. I decided that it was time to punt on the two forms packages on my Vista machine.
This was a two page document so I decide to save the file to my Sony USB thumb drive which I have never used in my Windows Vista machine. I inserted the thumb drive and Vista started searching for a driver. It actually hung the machine, and I had to reboot. At that point I decided to print the document to my upstairs office where my old XP machine is. I did that successfully and entered the information on the real estate forms package on the XP machine. The PDF file was created successfully, and I emailed it to the client.
I had carried my USB thumb drive up to perform a test. I stuck it into my Zonbu Linux computer. I was not surprised when it automatically was able to use the USB drive. I took this screen snapshot and actually sent it to my Windows Vista box. First it went as a PNG file. I tried to upload the image to Typepad. Typepad didn't recognize it. So after checking to make sure it had an extension, I went to my Mac and imported it to iPhoto and emailed it again as a JPG file to the Windows Vista machine. Once again I tried uploading from the Vista machine and Typepad refused to recognize it.
At that point I saved my post as a draft, turned around, and climbed on the stool by my Mac. I took the same file that had been sent by the Linux box and uploaded it to Typepad without any problems.
While all this might seem like enough to chuck the Windows Vista box, it really isn't the straw that broke the camel's back. That actually came earlier in the day.
I have multiple email accounts from a variety of providers since I live by email.
This morning I noticed that two of my email accounts were unresponsive. Since I used to work for the company hosting those accounts, I chatted with their Director of Infrastructure using my Adium instant messenger client. He admitted they were having "bandwidth" problems. I did not think much of it as my Mail app on OSX just put those two accounts offline.
Unfortunately I had something to do on my Vista laptop and happened to click my Outlook email client which was running and trying to download messages. Those two unresponsive IMAP accounts hung Outlook completely.
All of this taken together shows me that Microsoft has done a terrible job with Vista. The Linux from Zonbu works better. The forms packages that I bought the Vista system to use barely work and certainly do not have the promised functionality. And if two unresponsive email accounts are going to lock up my email package, I need another email package.
The amount of lost productivity due to Vista is amazing. Now there are likely people out there whose Vista systems work perfectly for them. Mine doesn't. It was a brand new machine, and is only six months old. While I am getting a few problems fixed, worse ones are cropping up. The machine is scanned regularly, and the worst thing that has ever shown up is one tracking cookie.
It all boils down to this. Windows is a time sink. This morning we were having a debriefing on a promotion that our company recently did. Someone happened to mention that it would have been a better promotion if he had been able to get to his files off his crashed Windows machine. Apparently our support person has been trying to recover them for a couple of weeks.
I just smiled to myself since the head of our company had told me that the flyer I produced recently was one of the best he had seen. It had taken less than an hour on Pages.
It is clear to me that if you are an independent contractor like I am, you might have to use Windows for some Windows specific things, but if you are trying to produce high quality work with a minimum effort, a Mac is the only way to go.
Otherwise consider yourself in the never ending quagmire of Vista.
It might be easy to say that the problems with Vista are to be expected since the OS comes from one company and the hardware is thrown together from a variety of companies who have lived in a world where no one has taken responsibility for the user's problems for years.
However, it is not easy to be that Vista user in an environment where you have to support yourself.
It is much easier being a Mac user. Apple certainly isn't perfect, but using OS X is an order of magnitude better than fighting with Vista.